PODCAST: Ukrainian President Zelensky Accuses Russia of Killing Civilians ‘for Pleasure’ (UCN 04.06.22)

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According to CNN, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russian troops of indiscriminately killing civilians “just for their pleasure” in an emotionally-charged address to the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday, before questioning the very mandate of the Security Council itself. Zelensky’s speech came a day after he visited the Kyiv suburb of Bucha, where shocking images of bodies in the streets emerged over the weekend. On Tuesday, he related the aftermath of Russia’s retreat from the town in horrifying detail, describing entire families killed, people with their throats slashed, and women raped and killed in front of their children. Zelensky said Russia’s actions were no different from those of a terror group, except that Russia is a permanent member of the UNSC. The Ukrainian leader then criticized the body, asking representatives point blank: “Where is the security that the Security Council needs to guarantee? It is not there, though there is a Security Council.” Zelensky added: “It is obvious that the key institution of the world designed to combat aggression and ensure peace cannot work effectively. “Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to remind you of Article 1, Chapter 1 of the UN Charter. What is the purpose of our organization? Its purpose is to maintain and make sure that peace is adhered to. And now the UN charter is violated literally starting with Article 1. And so what is the point of all other Articles?” he asked. At least 1,480 civilians have been killed and at least 2,195 have been injured in Ukraine between the start of the Russian invasion on February 24 and April 4, a UN official said at the meeting, citing updated numbers from the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). The latest figures on the number of Ukrainian civilians in the conflict had “more than doubled” since the last briefing to the UNSC on March 17. In Bucha, bodies strewn across the streets and in basements were found by human rights groups and documented by independent journalists. Satellite images suggest some bodies had been there since at least March 18.

According to KCRA, A second person was arrested in connection with the deadly mass shooting early Sunday morning that took the lives of six people and injured a dozen others, according to the Sacramento Police Department. The second suspect was identified as 27-year-old Smiley Martin, who was taken into custody Tuesday on charges that include possession of a firearm by a prohibited person and possession of a machine gun. He had posted a live Facebook video of himself brandishing a handgun hours before gunfire erupted, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press. Smiley Martin is the brother of the first suspect arrested, 26-year-old Dandrae Martin, police said. Smiley Martin sustained serious injuries from the shooting and is currently in a nearby hospital for treatment. He will be booked into the Sacramento County Main Jail once he is released from the hospital. Police confirmed Dandrae was also injured during the shooting. Authorities are trying to determine whether the weapon seen in the video posted on Smiley Martin’s account was used in the shooting, said the official, who was briefed on the investigation but could not discuss details publicly and spoke to AP on condition of anonymity. Investigators believe the brothers possessed stolen guns and are working to review financial documents, call records and social media messages to determine how and when they procured weapons, the official said. Martin has had run-ins with the law in Sacramento County since at least 2013. In a letter last year to the Board of Parole Hearings, the DA’s office called Smiley’s criminal conduct “violent and lengthy.” They wrote that he committed several felony violations and had “little regard for human life and the law.”

According to ChinaAid, On March 27, Zhang Ligong and Wang Runyun of Taiyuan Zion Reformed Church were released from prison. Now, all five Christians initially charged with “illegally crossing the national border” have been released. Family members and Christians from Zion Reformed picked them up at the detention center. They were full of peace and joy. Wang Runyun held his son in one hand and his daughter in the other. He posted on social media, “Dear family, we are back home safely. Thank you for your prayers. I am very grateful!” Five Christians were arrested at the same time. Song Shoushan was sentenced to six months and released on January 27. He lost some weight, but he was very peaceful. He told his family that they experienced God’s grace in the prison and shared the gospel with other prisoners. There are many broken people in the prison, and they all need the gospel. He said the other four Christians are all well. On February 27, Zhang Yaowen and Wang Shiqiang were released from prison. They were sentenced to seven months. They were also very peaceful. They took pictures with their family and other Christians in front of the detention center. Zhang Ligong, Wang Runyun, Wang Shiqiang, Zhang Yaowen, and Song Shoushan are all co-workers of Taiyuan Zion Reformed Church. In 2020, they traveled to Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) to attend the “Gospel and Culture Conference 2020” that Pastor Stephen Tong Tjong Eng organized. Their trip lasted from January 28 to February 3, and they used valid passports and visas. However, authorities still charged them “illegally crossing the national border” over a year later. Pastor Tong is an international, influential Chinese pastor who hosts conferences that attract Chinese Christians from all over the world. He openly criticized the Chinese Communist Party for this religious persecution. The CCP banned his sermons in China to retaliate.

According to Reuters, North Korea opposes war but would use nuclear weapons if South Korea attacked, Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of leader Kim Jong Un, said on Tuesday, in a warning that analysts said is probably aimed at the South’s incoming conservative president. Kim Yo Jong, a senior official in the government and ruling party, said it was a “very big mistake” for South Korea’s minister of defence to make recent remarks discussing attacks on the North, state news agency KCNA reported. South Korean Defence Minister Suh Wook had said on Friday that his country’s military has a variety of missiles with significantly improved range, accuracy and power, with “the ability to accurately and quickly hit any target in North Korea.” Both Koreas have increased displays of military strength after North Korea test-fired a range of increasingly powerful missiles this year. Officials in Seoul and Washington also fear it may be preparing to resume testing nuclear weapons for the first time since 2017 amid stalled negotiations. Kim and another North Korean official issued earlier statements on Sunday condemning Suh’s remarks, and warned that Pyongyang would destroy major targets in Seoul if the South takes any “dangerous military action” such as a preemptive strike.

According to The Florida Times-Union, A Duval County jury took a little more than three hours to find former Jacksonville Beach youth pastor Ronnie Leon Hyde guilty of killing and dismembering a 16-year-old Yulee boy in 1994. Following a tearful victim impact statement from Travis Laster, whose brother Fred Laster’s remains were found in Columbia County behind a gas station dumpster, Hyde was sentenced to life in prison. Hyde, 65, stood motionless as Judge Tatiana Salvador read the sentence just after 3:30 p.m., his attorney Ann Finnell at his side. The verdict came after four days of witness and evidence presentations to the jury, wrapping with Hyde testifying in his own defense. Standing at a courtroom podium, not looking at Hyde, Travis Laster said his entire family all lost someone who “was loved dearly.” And since no one knew the remains were his until a 2016 DNA test, his grandmother died never knowing what happened to her grandson, his brother said. When Hyde addressed the court in his own defense Thursday and again when he was questioned by the prosecutor the next day, he denied having done anything to the boy who he knew and spent a lot of time with. He said the teen was upset over a dispute with his sister when he last saw him and he had bailed out of Hyde’s car on U.S. 17 in Nassau County and disappeared. When questioned would he ever harm the boy, Hyde responded, “I would never hurt him.” Laster’s torso was found on June 5, 1994, behind a Lake City dumpster and missing the head, legs and hands, police said. Evidence was collected but his identification wasn’t unknown for years. A search warrant at Hyde’s Jacksonville Beach home uncovered more evidence and led to his arrest in 2017. He was charged with first-degree murder, plus 25 child-pornography possession counts that will be processed separately in court.

According to NPR, The University of South Carolina triumphed over the University of Connecticut with a score of 64-49, crowning the Gamecocks as 2022 NCAA March Madness champions in the women’s bracket. After securing a lead at halftime, the Gamecocks continued plowing forward until the end of the game. Guard Destanni Henderson delivered on the scoreboard, earning 26 points — a career-high — for the Gamecocks. Aliyah Boston, who is the national player of the year, dominated with 11 points and 16 rebounds. It was Boston’s 29th double-double of the season, The Athletic reported. Throughout the tourney, the Gamecocks trampled Howard, Miami, North Carolina, Creighton and Louisville before the final match-up against UConn. Sunday’s victory marked the program’s second national title, elevating coach Dawn Staley to become the first Black men’s or women’s coach with two Division I titles. The team won their last title in 2017 when it defeated Mississippi State. “We weren’t going to be denied,” Staley said. With two championship wins under their belt, the Gamecocks are now the eighth program to win multiple women’s NCAA titles. UConn leads with 11 national titles.

According to NPR, The Kansas Jayhawks rallied behind the greatest comeback in national championship history Monday over the University of North Carolina to claim the men’s NCAA Championship. The last standing one-seed Jayhawks trailed by 15 at halftime to rally for a 72-69 victory over the Tar Heels in a tight game between two historic programs. It was the fourth NCAA title for the Kansas men’s team. It was the largest comeback in national championship history, surpassing the 1963 title game when Loyola overcame a 15-point deficit to beat Cincinnati at the buzzer, 60-58. “Tonight we obviously labored in the first half,” said KU coach Bill Self, who won his second championship. “But the kids competed.” The Tar Heels led 40-25 at the beginning of the second half, but Kansas quickly recovered, scoring 20 points in just over seven minutes and closing North Carolina’s lead to a single point. The two teams continued to battle for the lead throughout the half. With 1:30 left in the game, North Carolina was once again ahead by a single point, 69-68, until Kansas starting forward David McCormack sank a two-pointer, turning the tables on the Tar Heels. The tension continued to build when North Carolina forward Armando Bacot had to be helped off the court due to a leg injury with only 38 seconds to go. McCormack sank another two points shortly after, securing a 72-69 lead and the championship for Kansas.

You can read these stories and more at UrbanChristianNews.com

In closing, remember, God loves you. He always has and He always will. John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” If you don’t know Jesus as your Saviour, today is a good day to get to know Him. Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose from the dead for you. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart and He will. Romans 10:13 says, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”

Thanks so much for listening and may God bless your day!